Kerala Kaumudi Online
Thursday, 25 July 2024 6.22 AM IST

CPM entangled in controversy over new liquor policy


THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Both the CPM and the state government have found themselves entangled in the controversy over the new liquor policy. The party is of the view that relaxations in the liquor policy are necessary for the development of the tourism sector in the state and to attract more investment in industrial and IT parks. However, the controversy erupted even before the government took a decision on the liquor policy. In this situation, how can the government announce relaxations in the liquor policy? If the government announces relaxations, it will be interpreted as the confirmation of taking bribes from the bar owners. The party and the government are finding it hard to make a decision on the matter.

Neither the CPM nor the LDF has held a discussion on the bar owners' bar owners' demands to do away with the dry day system and extend the operating hours of bars. The controversy broke out when a voice message sent by a leader of the bar owners' association asking each bar owner to pay Rs 2.50 lakhs in exchange for the relaxations from the government came out. The voice message was sent by Animon, a state leader of the Federation of Kerala Bar Association. It is alleged that there is a massive bribery deal behind this. The opposition is planning to launch widespread protests against the government even though CPM state secretary MV Govindan and Excise Minister MB Rajesh are claiming that the government has not even started a preliminary discussion on the liquor policy.

Opposition targeting Chief Minister
The opposition, which demanded the resignation of Excise Minister MB Rajesh, turned against Tourism Minister PA Mohammed Riyas after the details of the meeting called by the Tourism Director came out. It is asking if the Tourism Director would call a meeting without the knowledge of the Tourism Minister. By portraying Minister Riyas as the main mastermind in the bar bribery controversy, the opposition is targeting Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. The opposition is also trying to take advantage of the resentment that a section of the CPM has towards Riyas.

Central agencies' move?
The ruling front is worried about whether central agencies would intervene in the new bar bribery allegations in the state just like how they did in the Delhi excise policy scam. This is based on the report that the Income Tax started an investigation after the voice clip came out. In Delhi, the Kejriwal government's decision to privatize liquor sales paved the way for CBI and ED investigations. Despite the government withdrawing the controversial decision, the ED arrested Chief Minister Kejriwal, Excise Minister Sisodia and others on corruption charges.

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